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LGBT Postcards From Netroots Nation

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My better half, Caleb Eigsti, and I just finished a week in Las Vegas, where we attended our first Netroots Nation. The conference claims it “amplifies progressive voices by providing an online and in-person campus for exchanging ideas and learning how to be more effective in using technology to influence the public debate.” In reality, it was a swarming of over 2100 progressive activists, organizations, writers, and bloggers, who descended upon Sin City to talk shop, create new alliances, and rekindle old friendships.

(On Twitter, however, Netroots Nation, better known as #NN10, was an opportunity for the Ridiculous Right, especially, “#TCOT,” to lie and snark all weekend long. It’s truly amazing how disgusting, asinine, and juvenile our adversaries are!)

Netroots Nation this year was held at the Las Vegas Rio, which had a nice pool with nice fruity drinks…

but terrible Internet service…

Caleb and I spent an evening in Paris — the Paris Las Vegas! — where we won BIG MONEY!

Then, after Netroots Nation finished on Saturday, Caleb and I took a mini-vacation. I originally started writing this on Sunday from our room at the Bellagio, which offered an amazing view…

and amazing raspberry-stuffed french toast!

Now, it’s the wee hours of Tuesday morning. I’m on a plane (jetBlue!) sitting next to my partner, and trying to take all my thoughts and feelings about our first Netroots Nation conference and give you the “big picture” take-aways.

I confess I was surprised at the relatively small number of members of the LGBT community who attended, although I’m told it was our “best” showing ever. That concerns me.

Next year’s Netroots Nation has already been announced. It will be in June, in Minneapolis, where it’s cooler!…

… than Las Vegas’ 107 degree heat!

It was great to finally meet so many notables from our community, including The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld, Pam Spaulding and Autumn Sandeen of Pam’s House Blend, Good As You’s Jeremy Hooper, and (yeah!) my (awesome!) Change.org editor, Michael A. Jones, as well as say hello to some amazing friends (all icons!) like Mike Rogers, Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson, NGLTF’s Inga Sarda-Sorensen, Joe Jervis, aka, Joe.My. God, and GetEqual co-founder Robin McGehee.

Caleb and I attended many of the LGBT panels and caucuses. Most of our focus was on the issue of marriage, but we definitely noted some strong themes that ran throughout the entire conference.

Perhaps the most-repeated was the idea that all progressives need to work together, because we share the same ideals, and even if you don’t care about, say, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and even if I don’t care about, say, the environment (of course I do!,) we share the same adversaries/enemies, and we need to pool our resources and manpower (person-power?)

(Note: Read Caleb’s excellent takes on Netroots Nation: “Organizing Equality Under Obama, No Better Than Being Under Bush?” and “Marriage Equality Through A Netroots Nation Looking Glass.”)

As one speaker put it, the Tea Party has shown that they can easily switch from attacks on gays to attacks on blacks to attacks on Obama. We need to deploy the same flexibility and wide-reaching push-back skills.

So, after taking everything in and mulling it all over, here’s what I want you to know and to think about:

1.    Progressives, and perhaps especially LGBTs, seem beaten-down, though not, by any means, out. The LGBT leadership seemed especially focused on finding the positive in all the negatives, without changing gears or focus. It’s safe to say, from all I heard, that they are ready to continue our long slog at the same, slow pace, plodding along, offering little new tactics or strategy. This is a problem.

2.    I am, however, very pleased to finally see our leadership organizations working together. Long-time readers of this blog will know that I have respectfully chastised our leaders for not finding ways to work together. It would appear they have all now exchanged contact information!

3.    LGBT bloggers and activists need to now follow this lead and start working together. I’ve felt this way for a long time. Why don’t we share more information among ourselves, so we can be more efficient and effective in keeping our readers informed? Some of my LGBT blogging and activist friends have been very willing and ready to do this. Most recently, I’m thinking of Rod McCollum (Rod 2.0) and Scott Wooledge (DailyKos) with whom I worked on the sad, first anniversary of the murder of Seaman August Provost, and folks like Joe Jervis and David Mixner, who have been so supportive of me. (Thanks to you all!)

4.    You need to get (more) involved. Seriously. Whatever degree of involvement you have now, and I know for many readers of this blog you spend most of your waking hours “on patrol,” you need to step up the fight and get more of your friends, family, and co-workers working on our issues. There is no doubt in my mind that in just a very few short months, if Democrats don’t flood the polls, we will have given Congress — both houses — over to the GOP. That is unacceptable and cannot happen. If it does, we will have only ourselves to blame.

Again, you may remember the piece I wrote last summer over at Bilerico, “Fill The Void,” in which I warned that if we didn’t flood the media with positive news and information about LGBT issues, the right would “fill the void” with their lies and hate. That was one of the reasons we created, “The Great Nationwide Kiss-In.” It worked!

I want to challenge all my LGBT friends and allies to find ways to counteract the lies we know will be coming from the Right this August. With Congress in recess, they’ll have little to do and we can easily end up their target. Let’s take this opportunity this year to throw the first punch.

Next year, I truly want to see some things happen differently at Netroots Nation 2011. Primarily, I want more opportunities for the LGBT caucus to work together. I want our bloggers and activists and organizations locked in a room for a full day, sharing ideas and frustrations and coming up not only with ways to be more efficient and effective, but with actual strategies and focuses. There was a pre-Netroots day where 50+ bloggers got together, and Mike Rogers promises to open it up to many more next year.

I’ll leave you with one final thought: Regardless of what you call yourself, a progressive, a liberal, a Democrat, or someone with left-leaning tendencies, it is critical that we stand together now, and through November. Or surely, we will stand alone.

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News

‘Big Whop’: Even Right-Wing Critics Are Slamming Elon Musk’s ‘Underwhelming’ Hunter Biden Twitter Escapade

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Right-wing Twitter users are weighing in to express their disapproval of the so-called bombshell “Twitter files” Elon Musk promised to deliver on Friday, December 2.

According to The Daily Beast, Musk was set to address Twitter’s decision to implement a policy that would restrict headlines and reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop from circulating on the social media platform. However, the leak ended up being a failure for many right-wing experts.

Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing radio host who previously served under the Trump administration, offered a critical response to Musk’s release after journalist Matt Taibbi shared a full Twitter thread about the findings.

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“So far, I’m deeply underwhelmed,” Gorka said, adding, “We know the Dems in DC collude with the Dems in Palo Alto [Califonia]. Big Whop.”

He went on to reiterate his arguments when grilled by his far-right followers who were convinced that Musk’s Twitter files were some kind of “smoking gun.”

Per the news outlet: “Responding to a user claiming the Twitter company emails were ‘a clear violation of the 1st Amendment,’ the radio host fired back: ‘Err no, it’s not the DNC asking a private company to censor has nothing to do with the First Amendment.’”

Speaking to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, New York Post columnist Miranda Devine also disapproved of the release. “I feel that Elon Musk has held back some material,” she alleged. According to The Beast, Devine also claimed: “sinister forces were perhaps controlling Musk after the Twitter chief took a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier in the week.”

READ MORE: Marco Rubio: ‘Not a crime’ to break federal law by taking top secret national security documents from the White House

She added, “In particular, there’s a tweet in which Matt Taibbi says he hasn’t seen any evidence that law enforcement specifically warned off Twitter from our story. But that’s just not correct.”

Free Beacon reporter Joe Simonson also echoed similar sentiments on Twitter. “Twitter files [are] underwhelming so far,” Simonson tweeted. “Just revealing what we already knew: Twitter was staffed by democrats who did the bidding of Democrats.”

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Image by Daniel Oberhaus (2018) via Flickr and a CC license

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'HELPING NORMALIZE A NAZI'

Musk’s Twitter Is ‘Welcoming With Open Arms’ a ‘Full-Fledged Nazi’ – and Recommending Users Follow Him: Reports

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Elon Musk‘s Twitter on Friday allowed Andrew Anglin, the neo-Nazi behind the infamous Daily Stormer website to return to the social media platform after a nine-year ban. Several Twitter users reported the social media platform is now recommending they follow him.

“Anglin has publicly indicated that the goal of his operation and adherence to white nationalist ideology is to ‘ethnically cleanse White nations of non-Whites and establish an authoritarian government. Many people also believe that the Jews should be exterminated,'” reported Rolling Stone on Friday. “Anglin is a staunch supporter of Nazi ideology and regularly espouses Holocaust denail. In 2018, Anglin wrote that he ‘[hates] women. I think they deserve to be beaten, raped and locked in cages.'”

WUSA 9 investigative reporter Jordan Fischer tweeted a screenshot of the Twitter recommendation.

READ MORE: Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports

As did other Twitter users.

Last month veteran journalist Nick Martin, who investigates hate and extremism, reported that “Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene shared a thread calling on Elon Musk to reinstate an array of racists, conspiracy theorists and serial harassers. The list includes fugitive neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, white supremacist David Duke and British neo-Nazi Mark Collett.”

At the top of that list is Milo Yiannopoulos, a right wing extremist and provocateur who has advocated for older men having sex with underaged teen boys. Yiannopoulos is also Greene’s intern who was reportedly part of the Kanye WestNick Fuentes dinner with Donald Trump.

“Andrew Anglin is the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, which takes its name from the gutter Nazi propaganda sheet known as Der Stürmer,” the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported. “True to that vintage, Anglin is infamous for the crudity of his language and his thinking, a contrast to his sophistication as a prolific internet troll and serial harasser. Anglin’s organizing and harassment on the Daily Stormer led to lawsuits, and courts have awarded millions of dollars in damages to plaintiffs suing Anglin in recent years. But with his whereabouts unknown, Anglin has so far escaped full accountability for his actions.”

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Indeed, just last month a federal judge issued an arrest warrant for Andrew Anglin, who is “accused of ignoring a $14 million judgment against him for orchestrating an antisemitic harassment campaign against a Montana woman’s family,” The Billings Gazette had reported.

SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah responded to Anglin’s return to Twitter by reminding him he still owes him “$4.1 million dollars for sending your Nazis to kill me. Do you have the $?! I want to donate it groups that counter the very hate you spew!”

“Musk is helping normalize a Nazi,” he adds.

Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America (IFA) called Anglin “a full-fledged Nazi who runs the Daily Stormer and, among many other things, was found liable for the Charlottesville violence in our lawsuit. A perfect example of the vile, violent extremists Musk is welcoming with open arms.”

Image: Elon Musk, photo by NASA/Aubrey Gemignani via Flickr

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Anti-LGBTQ Slurs on Twitter Up Over 800% as Musk Allows Thousands of Previously Banned Users Back: Reports

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In the wake of the Colorado Springs hate crime mass shooting last month at an gay nightclub’s drag show event that left five people dead, the anti-LGBTQ slur “groomer” and other anti-LGBTQ hate speech posts on Twitter skyrocketed, “peaking at 885% over their highest level before the shooting,” NBC News reports.

“Barely 24 hours after the Colorado Springs hate crime attack,” Salon reported last week, “Elon Musk’s new Twitter responded to the massacre by reinstating the account of James Lindsay, the right-wing activist responsible for popularizing the anti-LGBTQ slur ‘OK groomer,’ which over the last 10 months has been used to imply that demands for LGBTQ rights or representation are tantamount to child molestation. In August, Lindsay was banned from Twitter for using a variation on the term, which under Twitter’s old regime was prohibited as a form of hateful conduct. But by Monday night, not only was Lindsay back, but ‘OK groomer’ was trending on the platform under its new ownership.”

Slurs against gay men on Twitter have increased by a daily average of 58% in the weeks following Elon Musk taking the critically influential social media platform private, firing its board, and welcoming back thousands of previously-banned accounts, according to information from NBC News and The New York Times.

“Travis Brown, an independent software developer in Berlin who tracks Twitter suspensions and screen name changes as part of a project studying extremism,” NBC News reports, shared data “that showed a wide variety of far-right accounts had been reinstated since Musk’s announcement” of a so-called “general amnesty.”

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“In that time, Brown has logged an estimated 12,000 reversals of past bans, in a set that, while not a definitive list of reversals, provides a window into the types of users being welcomed back to the platform and leaving experts alarmed.”

In addition to “spammers, copyright rule-breakers, adult-content creators and high-profile accounts, Twitter has reopened the door to a growing and emboldened community of trolls, white nationalists, conspiracy theorists and extreme right-wing activists,” NBC adds.

Musk’s general amnesty “has restored hundreds of accounts of right-wing activists and QAnon adherents, according to data reviewed by NBC News. The reinstatement of far-right accounts has coincided with a series of bans of left-wing accounts, leaving users unsure of how the company is now applying its rules.”

The New York Times adds, “Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day.”

“Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day,” The Times reports. “And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.”

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Significantly, antisemite Kanye West‘s restored Twitter account was suspended Thursday night, hours after – but not because – the far right rapper told Alex Jones of his support for Adolf Hitler.

“I see good things about Hitler,” West told Jones. “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.” 

Musk apparently personally had West’s Twitter account suspended when the artist who goes by “Ye” posted an image of a Jewish six-pointed star embedded with a Nazi swastika. The account, at least for now, remains suspended.

The Times reporting, which includes information from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, calls the increase in hate speech on Musk’s Twitter “unprecedented.”

“Accounts that Twitter used to regularly remove — such as those that identify as part of the Islamic State, which were banned after the U.S. government classified ISIS as a terror group — have come roaring back. Accounts associated with QAnon, a vast far-right conspiracy theory, have paid for and received verified status on Twitter, giving them a sheen of legitimacy,” The Times reveals.

Musk himself set the stage. At the end of October he retweeted a false, anti-LGBTQ conspiracy theory involving Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband, who had recently been bludgeoned in a “near death” attack in their San Francisco home, allegedly by a man who has promoted far right extremism. He later removed that retweet.

Just last week Bloomberg News reported Musk was “restoring a string of accounts previously suspended for harassing transgender people, rolling back protections for the LGBTQ community as the country confronts the aftermath” of the Colorado Springs mass shooting. “Advocates say the shooting… highlights the potential real-world violence that can stem from rhetoric against the trans community. They noted that anti-trans abuse has been mounting on the platform since the shooting.”

READ MORE: Chasten Buttigieg Stunned as Nicolle Wallace Reports New DHS Warning Lists LGBTQ People as ‘Targets of Potential Violence’

As Musk welcomes back thousands who were banned for various reasons, from hate speech to disinformation to spamming to attacks on minorities and more, NBC’s reporting makes clear that left wing activists are finding their accounts suspended for apparently no legitimate reason.

“Chad Loder is an independent journalist in Los Angeles with more than 137,000 followers whose reporting on the Jan. 6 riot has been cited in Justice Department charging documents. Loder, who uses they/them pronouns, recently had their account suspended, briefly reinstated and then suspended again without a clear reason.”

For his part, Musk took to Twitter to refute reports hate speech has increased dramatically.

 

Image by The Royal Society/Debbie Rowe, Photographer via Wikimedia and a CC license

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